DUSTY’S FELT scored one of the more popular Tooheys New Armidale Gold Cup wins when Matthew Paget propelled the seven-year-old gelding to a length win in yesterday’s $35,000 feature.
Grafton-based Paget won his first Cup with a brilliant ride, following race favourite and leader Brave Ali all the way before gaining an inside run and sweeping to a length win from Tim Martin’s Dollar Dan with Darren Smith’s Full Blast a half head away third.
Trainer Paul Grills and former premiership-winning captain-coach Craig Waters lifted Paget onto their shoulders to carry him to the presentation ceremony in joyful celebration of their win.
Armidale Jockey Club secretary Jim Dedes, a co-owner of Brave Ali, reckoned the win was one of the best local successes in his time.
“I can’t remember a more popular win than Dusty’s Felt,” Dedes said.
AJC president Rod Watt, a co-owner of Brave Ali as well as a winner of the 1993 Cup with Parademansia, also believed the win one of the more enjoyable local wins.
“It was a wonderful win for a wonderful group of people,” Watt said.
Dusty’s Felt’s road to an Armidale Cup win started in 2011 when Paul Grills, Craig Waters, Michael Jackson and Bruce Coppock pooled their money to buy the gelding for $20,000.
“We expected to win a few races with him but didn’t win many early on,” Grills said.
“But he has been consistent, unbelievably consistent.”
Winning an Armidale Cup became a real possibility when he led all the way to win a 1700m Grafton Benchmark 65 in January.
Then he ran a good third at Grafton before finishing second to Kwilas Law in the Armidale Cup Prelude.
“That was a big run,” Paul Grills said of a gelding who has now won 10 of his 77 starts and five at his home Armidale track.
He might now look at a Grafton Cup for the gelding.
Matthew Paget, 35, is based at Grafton and celebrated his first Armidale Cup yesterday.
‘I’ve won two Tamworth Cups, a Gosford cup, a Ballina Cup and now an Armidale Cup.
“I’ve only had a few rides in it though. It was a good second in the Prelude. Had a real dogfight down the straight with another horse and never saw the other horse (Kwilas Law) until it was too late.
“The Grafton Cup might be a good aim for him. He’s no superstar, just an old battler who tries his heart out. His heart is right in it.”
Paget has formed a good combination with both Dusty’s Felt and Paul Grills but also praised the work of Armidale jockey Geoff Snowden.
“I’d like to mention Geoff,” he said.
“He does a lot of work here for Paul.
“Paul’s been a great supporter and we’ve got a real good combination.”
One of the highlights of the Cup meeting was the appearance of NSW TAB’s Glenn Munsie.
He called a phantom Cup at the Cup Calcutta the night before as well as running a punters’ club in the Tooheys tent that won money for its members as well as $1600 for a farmers drought appeal.